One Thing to Do About Food: A Forum
In the very short span of about fifty years, we've allowed our politicians to do something remarkably stupid: turn America's food-policy decisions over to corporate lobbyists, lawyers and economists. These are people who could not run a watermelon stand if we gave them the melons and had the Highway Patrol flag down the customers for them--yet, they have taken charge of the decisions that direct everything from how and where food is grown to what our children eat in school.
As a result, America's food system (and much of the world's) has been industrialized, conglomeratized and globalized. This is food we're talking about, not widgets! Food, by its very nature, is meant to be agrarian, small-scale and local.
But the Powers That Be have turned the production of our edibles away from the high art of cooperating with nature into a high-cost system of always trying to overwhelm nature. They actually torture food--applying massive doses of pesticides, sex hormones, antibiotics, genetically manipulated organisms, artificial flavorings and color, chemical preservatives, ripening gas, irradiation...and so awfully much more. The attitude of agribusiness is that if brute force isn't working, you're probably just not using enough of it.
More fundamentally, these short-cut con artists have perverted the very concept of food. Rather than being both a process and product that nurtures us (in body and spirit) and nurtures our communities, food is approached by agribusiness as just another commodity that has no higher purpose than to fatten corporate profits.
There's our challenge. It's not a particular policy or agency that must be changed but the most basic attitude of policy-makers. And the only way we're going to get that done is for you and me to become the policy-makers, taking charge of every aspect of our food system--from farm to fork.
The good news is that this "good food" movement is already well under way and gaining strength every day. It receives little media coverage, but consumers in practically every city, town and neighborhood across America are reconnecting with local farmers and artisans to de-industrialize, de-conglomeratize, de-globalize--de-Wal-Martize--their food systems.
Of course, the Powers That Be sneer at these efforts, saying they can't succeed. But, as a friend of mine who is one of the successful pioneers in this burgeoning movement puts it: "Those who say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
Look around wherever you are and you'll find local farmers, consumers, chefs, marketers, gardeners, environmentalists, workers, churches, co-ops, community organizers and just plain folks who are doing it. These are the Powers That Ought to Be--and I think they will be. Join them!